Holy Fools in Byzantium and Beyond

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OUP Oxford, Apr 6, 2006 - Religion - 492 pages
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There are saints in Orthodox Christian culture who overturn the conventional concept of sainthood. Their conduct may be unruly and salacious, they may blaspheme and even kill - yet, mysteriously, those around them treat them with even more reverence. Such saints are called 'holy fools'. In this pioneering study Sergey A. Ivanov examines the phenomenon of holy foolery from a cultural standpoint. He identifies its prerequisites and its development in religious thought, and traces the emergence of the first hagiographic texts describing these paradoxical saints. He describes the beginnings of holy foolery in Egyptian monasteries of the fifth century, followed by its high point in the cities of Byzantium, with an eventual decline in the twelfth to fourteenth centuries. He also compares the important Russian tradition of holy fools, which in some form has survived to this day.
 

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Contents

Introduction
1
1 Precursors and Emergence
11
2 Insane Saints
49
3 Lechers and Beggars
66
4 Holy Scandal
104
5 The Second Edition of Holy Foolery
139
6 The New Theologians
174
7 Balancing at the Edge
195
10 The Iurodivyi and the Tsar
285
11 Iurodstvo in an Age of Transition
311
12 Iurodstvo Meets Modernity
345
13 The Eastern Periphery
359
14 The Western Periphery
374
Conclusion
399
Bibliography
415
Index
457

8 Decline
220
9 Old Russian Iurodstvo
244

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About the author (2006)

Sergey A. Ivanov is Senior Research Associate, Institute of Slavic and Balkan Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences.

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